'Expedition To The Edge' Recap (09/06/2020)

Post by: Rick Ellis 07 September, 2020

The episode begins with the Infinity docked in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, a remote location very familiar to fans of Deadliest Catch. The plan is to spend a week restocking and preparing the ship for the insanely difficult trip ahead. First, it's a 1300-mile voyage to Barrow, Alaska before they attempt to sail through to the Northwest Passage and make it to the small town of Alert. A location farther north than any sailing ship has ever traveled in history. 

As I mentioned in last week's recap, I'd feel a bit more confident about this expedition if it wasn't for the fact that this ragtag group of disparate people are more the naval equivalent of a van full of night school students piling into a rusty old van to go score some weed. There are some talented people in the crew. But man, the quirky to somewhat normal ratio overall is kinda high.

The week begins with Captain Clemons reminding the crew that the trip ahead will be difficult. And that when the final decision needs to made about anything important, he'll be making it. At least, he notes, "until you a get together and decide I'm insane and remove me." Okay, its not an Aaron Sorkin-eqsque speech, but it gets his point across. But his approach doesn't exactly thrill some members of the crew. You know....I sense this might be an issue in future episodes.

The crew bring in 16 weeks worth of food and examine all of the survival gear. And it's a bit disconcerting to some of them to realize the rescue flares stowed with the emergency flotation devices expired in May 1994. The crew's optimism isn't improved when they meet the captain who had attempted a similar trio the year before. He had a modern boat with a thick steel hull and still wasn't able to get to Alert. He's told about Captain Clem's plans to sail to Alert and then hopefully over the northern top edge of Greenland. When he's asked whether he thinks the trip is possible he suggests that it might be if you had a nuclear-powered icebreaker as a support ship. He explains that he's lived in the Arctic for 22 years and has made four attempts to get Alert, "and I've never been there." He also makes the point that if the ship gets trapped in the ice, it'll be there for ten months. So by the time you free the ship and return to civilization, you could be gone for more than a year. 

A reminder that the Infinity is packing food for 16 weeks.

As if the trip isn't going to be challenging enough, Captain Clemons has invited his two older children (I'm assuming from a previous marriage) to fly into Dutch Harbor and join everyone on the trip. Not surprisingly, they seem to have been estranged and the son says that this father has always had these big ambitions and goals. And that he can become a fanatic about that to the exclusion of everything else, including his family. While it's great that they are reconnecting, I'm not sure that a life-threatening trip through the ice fields is the best place to reconnect.

Speaking of challenges, some of them are less predictable than others. It turns out that what appears to be every bald eagle in Alaska has decided the Infinity should be their toilet away from home. So the ship is covered with Eagle crap, which is just as nasty as it sounds.

Finally, it's time to leave Dutch Harbor and the local pastor offers to give the Infinity a last blessing for the trip. And given what they're facing, the crew is eager to get help wherever they can get it.

As the Infinity makes its way to Barrow, the biggest challenge turns out to be the health of the crew. One crew member has Shingles and staph infections are rampant among the crew. 

In the midst of all of the health issues, the weather also takes a turn for the worse. Captain Clemons hoped to make it to Point Barrow and get past that spot before the ice fields moved south to shut off clear passage. But the ice moved faster than anticipated and as the Infinity approaches the Bering Straits, they discover the ice has already moved in. So the Infinity will be forced to stop at the secluded bay of Port Clarence. Hopefully, the wind direction will shift and push the ice away from Alaska's North Shore long enough for the Infinity to squeak through.

Port Clarence is a small town of less than 200 people, but it's a friendly place to wait out the ice fields. But the crew is also reminded that they are not prepared for what is ahead. There are some remnants from an expedition more than a hundred years ago by Roald Amundsen, who was the first person to sail the Northwest Passage. One crew member notes that Amundsen famously said that "adventure is just bad planning." Which means the Infinity is headed for a lot of adventure.

And here comes the next adventure. The weather forecast has the ice slowly receding over the next week and opening up more the following week. But Captain Clemons doesn't want to wait and so he decides on a typically slightly insane approach to the problem. He collects a bunch of discarded car tires and straps them to the bow of the Infinity, in hopes they'll protect the ship from the ice. An idea which seems to be....unconventional. 

And that's it for this week. The brief tease for next week shows the Infinity encountering a wall of ice. And the only thing that makes me optimistic for the ship's future is that it's too early in the season for the ship to sink.

Last modified on Monday, 07 September 2020 13:27